Cameo: Rach On — Domonique Launey

BY Brooks Preik

Enchanted by the music of Mozart at the tender age of two  Domonique Launey seemed destined to become a concert  pianist. Her mother  an amateur classical pianist and her father a trumpet and cornet player  instilled in their children a love for the music of master composers and also an appreciation for the rich musical heritage of the 

Louisiana Cajun country where they grew up. Launey completed her undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Texas-Austin where she studied piano. There she took master classes with some of the foremost classical musicians and teachers of the day. She completed her postgraduate work in Belgium as a Rotary International Scholar. She has performed throughout the US Europe and Jamaica as a soloist  chamber musician and accompanist garnering many impressive awards in her career including first place in the Wideman International Piano Competition and the Gold Medallion for her solo performance at Academie de Musique in Belgium. She and her husband Dr. Jonathan Hines — also an accomplished musician as well as a physician — moved to Wilmington in 1996. Since that time Launey has been a central figure on the concert scene in her adopted community  

performing regularly for the Music at First series at First Presbyterian Church in numerous chamber music recitals and as a soloist with the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra.




You and your husband have family in Louisiana and Texas. What made you choose Wilmington as your home?

Jon is an internal medicine specialist and he was recruited to this area. He loves the ocean. I love the mountains and I knew the mountains were not that far away. Of course  I love the ocean too. Who wouldn t ?

Has your musical career been favorably affected by moving to this area?

Yes tremendously. I was so welcomed by the musical community here. I met Doug Lightenheimer the organist/music director at First Presbyterian Church. He told me about the concerts they were starting there and invited me. I was so lucky to have that lovely venue and that beautiful piano a 7-foot Shigeru Kawai. Steven Errante heard me play and invited me to play a Mozart Concerto with the Wilmington Symphony. Then I met others. I was amazed at all of the concentrated talent here. 

You teach in addition to performing. How has your involvement with the Cape Fear Music Teachers Association influenced you? 

Membership is open to everyone  though mostly piano teachers. I was used to being in a huge association but this one is a small wonderful group of serious piano teachers who are totally devoted to their work. That devotion to me has always been inspirational.

Who is your favorite composer from the past?

Mozart. When I was a child I could walk around and sing all of the themes. It intrigued me that he could think of so many. He had endless ideas.

If you could spend an evening with any musical celebrity living or dead who would you choose?

Leonard Bernstein — hands down. One of the most creative people ever. And such exuberance.

What contemporary classical pianist is your favorite?

Emanuel Ax because he always stays true to the style and score of the composer.

Though you are blessed with an incredible talent as a pianist  is there another that you wish for?

I always dreamed I would wake up one morning with a gorgeous voice.

If you could travel all expenses paid to any city in the world where would you go? Why?

First Baton Rouge to see my amazing mother then Vienna would be great to re-experience the opera  the Vienna Philharmonic museums and striking architecture.

Do you have a most treasured possession?

A 7-foot 1912 Mason & Hamlin BB the piano that is more beautiful than most concert grands.

Would you agree with what Sergei Rachmaninoff once said: Music is enough for a lifetime but a lifetime is not enough for music.

I do agree. I think it takes more than one lifetime to be mature enough to interpret and comprehend the way the composer wants us to explore and experiment with the music. The interpretation changes so much as you live and experience life. It s too bad we don t have 400 lifetimes.

You recently performed with the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra — on your Mason & Hamlin — the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 known as The Rach 3 arguably one of the most difficult pieces  ever written. How did you prepare for that performance?

I dropped everything in life except for my teaching and my family. For ten months straight. I didn t do anything but work on the Rachmaninoff and really  I could have used another year.

What was the most difficult obstacle you had to overcome?

At first I sat down and went through every section all of the phrases and segments. I said to myself You can handle all of this technically. That didn t mean I could play it well. The most disturbing aspect of working on the piece day after day was realizing that each day I had only managed to practice a small fraction of the 55-minute concerto. As a musician encounters a work that is so heavenly and passionate and at the same time so awkward and demanding one is nearly overcome with frustrations which in turn can lead to great fear. I had nightmares every single night.

How did you feel about your performance?

Even though I have had many wonderful responses I did not have the courage to listen to the recording of it until a few days ago. I was actually very happy with most of it and am pleased that it went so well considering the stress involved with such a huge project. The audience was so enthusiastic that night and listening to what they heard I was thrilled to know the essence of this fantastic piece was well presented by the Wilmington Symphony Orchestra and me.

How would you best describe yourself?

Determined not afraid of hard work concerning performing and teaching love my family and canines.

How would your three daughters describe you?

I would hope the same way.

You have three multi-talented daughters: Molly  working on a graduate degree in violin at Baylor University; Emily a pre-med student at NC State University; and Katie an equestrian  who is a senior at Hoggard High School and also quite musical. You have performed in concert with Molly?

Oh yes. Molly is a wonderful violinist very artistic and plays the piano very well also. I want to continue performing with her as long as I can. I love it. 

You came from a family of seven children six girls and one boy. Your husband was from a family of six boys and one girl. How has growing up in large families with lots of activities and fun affected your roles as parents?

Jon and I both believe in having an encouraging environment in our home. Interaction and creativity are key to getting along in today s world.